Your search results

The Bogue Plan – A Better Seattle

Posted by Johnine Larsen on May 12, 2016
| 0

Seattle voters authorized a Municipal Plans Commission on March 8, 1910. The city was growing, and they needed a game plan for long-term development. The commission selected Virgil G. Bogue to plan and beautify Seattle’s future.

“Virgil G. Bogue, who is not unknown locally, will draw the substantial salary of $1,500 a month, and be rent-free when he undertakes the agreeable task of beautifying Seattle, under the auspices of the Civic Plans Commission. Seattle, with its $2,000,000 to be expended in parks and boulevards, with its wonderful settings of wooded slopes, mountains, sea and lakes, with its engineer of National fame, is on the way to become celebrated as one of the most picturesque and beautiful cities in all the world.” (The Seattle Daily Times, September 4, 1910).

Bogue created an extensive, two-volume master plan based on a future city “of slightly over a million inhabitants.” For reference, 1910 Seattle had just crested 237,000 inhabitants, and today, the city’s population is estimated over 660,000 (the metropolitan area has more than 3.6 million).

Bogue and the Municipal Plans Commission believed an organized, logical plan could prevent growing pains, lay a foundation for a high-functioning larger city, and foster cooperation between the public sector, private sector, and various levels of government.

The Bogue Plan included:

  • A grand civic center in present-day Belltown. Public buildings and city offices would be grouped in the Denny Regrade, with the center of this wide-spaced, majestic civic center at Fourth and Blanchard.
  • An overhauled public transportation system, including:
    • Rapid subway transit lines to connect neighborhoods across the city, with routes going north-south and east-west.
    • An above-ground rail line between Everett and Tacoma, with a giant train station in modern-day South Lake Union (where Roy Street intersects Highway 99).
    • Street cars. Lots of street cars.
    • An underground tunnel beneath Lake Washington to connect Seattle and Kirkland by rail.
  • A plan for the Seattle coastline, including present-day Harbor Island.
  • A height limit on downtown buildings. Similar to height caps in Paris or Washington D.C., this would allow more light into downtown streets
  • Expanded parks and boulevards. Bogus recommended Seattle de-develop Mercer Island and turn it into an “island park—a people’s playground, worthy of the city of millions which will someday surround Lake Washington.”

Map_20No._204_20Steam_20and_20Street_20Railways_20-_20Imgur.0

Was it a good plan?

Seattle’s 1912 voters didn’t think so.

The plan was expensive, and the Belltown location for the proposed civic center kicked off a political power struggle. Pioneer Square had established itself as the downtown core, and that area’s entrenched businesses had no interest in watching future development move north. They fought to keep the city offices near them.

When the public voted in 1912, the Bogue Plan was defeated almost two-to-one: 24,966 against, and only 14,506 for.

But the question stands: Was it a good plan?

A comprehensive plan like Bogue’s might have very well prevented our most-common complaints about the city: traffic, lack of mass transit, crowding. More green space would have been a welcome bonus, as well.

“It was a wonderful plan; it was so visionary,” said Leonard Garfield, executive director of the Museum of History and Industry. “But for working people, it was so expensive, and for rich people, it was too much work.”

boguemap

“When you look at [Bogue’s] approach to Harbor Island, the architecture, the sort of city-beautiful ideas he had for downtown, he definitely was thinking about issues that were going to need attention,” said Dennis Meier, strategic adviser with the Seattle Department of Planning and Development. “It was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to grow and we’re going to be big.’

We have grown big, and we’re growing even bigger. Seattle keeps attracting new inhabitants, and soon a miniature version of the Bogue Plan—ST3, 2016’s own mass transit plan—will appear on our ballots. Would the Bogue Plan have accomplished ST3’s goals a century ago? Is ST3 doomed to the same fate at the Bogue Plan?

If you have an answer, let us know. These are hard, important questions for our city.

  • Sarah Donaldson
    Sarah Donaldson
    18:44 18 Jul 19
    Darcie was such a joy to work with. She felt like family during the sale of our house and the search for our new home. We may have found our forever home, but if we ever need a Realtor in future, Darcie from Real Estate Gals will be our first call.
    Brian Heagler
    Brian Heagler
    16:55 02 Jun 19
    I have worked with Johnine and her team for 19 years and have always received personal, knowledgeable and professional service and attention! There is never and pressure and they will guide you away from a property when appropriate, which is always appreciated when a market is hot and the tendency is to move quickly. I trust them and have never been let down!
    Anne Slater
    Anne Slater
    18:03 25 May 19
    Johnine Larsen is fabulous! She listened and came up with ways we could get what we wanted in a house and stay within our limited budget. When we found the house we wanted, she moved super fast to get the house inspected and implemented creative ideas to make our offer appealing. And out of 13 offers, we were selected and got our house. I recommend her to anyone buying a home.
    Amy Burdick
    Amy Burdick
    19:13 24 May 19
    Real Estate Gals made sure we found our perfect house! Then, when we were up against other bidders, Johnine worked tirelessly to ensure we were tops! Her extensive real estate experience combined with exceptional character and integrity provided peace of mind throughout the process. She also made sure we received the right value as a seller and got the transaction done quickly and efficiently. Simply stated: there is nobody better to help you find your dream home.
    Bill Hollman
    Bill Hollman
    22:21 19 May 19
    I'd give Real Estate Gals 6 stars if I could. We have used them multiple times, both in selling and buying homes in Seattle and the surrounding area. I can't say enough about the professionalism, knowledge, and patience they bring to the task of buying a new home, or selling your current residence. And they know the Seattle area so well, they'll offer valuable insights into the pros and cons of any location you may be to considering. Look no further, call Johnine at Real Estate Gals. You will be glad you did!
    Beth Guerra
    Beth Guerra
    01:14 18 May 19
    Johnine was a breath of fresh air in the real estate market. She listened intently to our wishes and goals, and was tireless in her search for our perfect house. She is well versed in both Seattle and the surrounding areas. She made sure all the details were taken care of after the inspection, and made the closing process seamless. She even gifted us with a housewarming present. Nearly 7 years later, we still receive holiday cards and well wishes. I highly recommend Real Estate Gals and will look no further in the future.
    Aidan Key
    Aidan Key
    15:44 17 May 19
    Johnine and the Real Estate Gals brilliantly took us through the home buying process two different times. Their willingness to educate (I was new), hear our home hopes, and support us through the process are a few of the reasons that I highly recommend this team. Speaking of a team, I love their collaborative business model - it meant that we--the home buyers--always had a returned phone call and an ability to look at a house on OUR schedule. Truly felt like they place the customer first!
    See All Reviews